Friday, December 30, 2011

Winter Market in Brussels

We are back in London now, but are still carrying around memories (and photos) from the Christmas trip to Brussels.  One of the highlights of the holiday week was the hours (both daytime and evening) spent wandering around the streets through the Winter Markets, or, "Plaisirs d'Hiver!"   It is a market that runs for over 2 km from the Grand Place, through the Bourse, and to the Marche aux Poissons.  Steve and I keep wondering why we don't have something like this back in Victoria... totally glorious.  Stand after stand selling food, drink, clothes, crafts, toys, jewelry... if you can imagine it, you can find it!

Dried Fruits

artisinal cheeses

Old-fashioned Candy
Ferris Wheel at the Market
I notice here that i only took photos of food.  hahah.  so typical for me!  But there were sweaters, hats, reindeer skins, perfumes, chess sets, candles, kitchen plates, lamps, etc.  At the far end of the market, there was a ferris wheel, which offered a splendid view of the market, including the outdoor skating rink set up at the halfway mark.
View from the Ferris Wheel
We spent a long time standing at the side of the skating rink, watching those brave enough to strap on the skates.  I say 'brave' because it was a bit more like hydroplaning than skating.  The weather was not even close to approaching zero, and the ice was covered by more than a few milimeters of water. 
water on the ice

an expert skater

There were some great skaters (like the older man in the photo here... he was such a treat to watch... controlled, fluid, positioning his arms as if he was moving in time to a song playing in his head...wearing his own figure skates rather than the rental hockey skates... we wondered if he might have been an olympic skater in an earlier time), but many of the folk seemed to be having their first experience.  It is never pleasant to fall on the ice, but it is even more of an adventure when you land in a sheet of melting ice water.  Huge cheers would go up from the watching crowd whenever someone hit the ice, and rose with their pants soaking wet.  As bizarre as it seemed to me, people were absolutely undetered by the water on the ice.  Ah well.... to each their own!

One of my favourite things at the Market was the Carosel. I don't even know if that ('carosel') is the right word for it. There were two of them. I am sure i didn't capture it well enough in the photos but... they have a sort of 1900s steampunk feel to them. Instead of the traditional painted horses, kids get to ride on a variety of mechanical creations...creations in the shape of trains, planes, bugs, flying machines... Each of the choices did something different: levers to make parts of the ride move up and down, in circles, around, etc.  There was a giant bug that would rear back on its legs, an iguana with a shell on its back (in which a child could sit) with a mouth that would open and close,  a sort of mechanical flying man whose arms you could make flap up and down.  Here are a couple of pictures, but if you click on this link, you can see some better ones on the "Les manèges d’Andréa" site, including some video footage!  The videos are well worth a look!

Les manèges d’Andréa

carosel and church tower...

wanna ride an iguana?...

...or be carried by the flying man?

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